This vegetarian rendang (rendang sayur, in Malay) is in fact, a vegan rendang recipe. It’s full of the toasty, aromatic flavours that the traditional beef rendang is famous for, but a vegan friendly curry.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Table of contents
What is Rendang?
Rendang is a highly aromatic, slow cooked coconut based curry with a rich and full bodied flavour. Originating in Indonesia, it has long been considered a Singaporean and Malaysian recipe too, belonging to the Malays.
Beef Rendang is the most popular version of this iconic dish, although it did start life with buffalo meat.
This is one of my most treasured childhood recipes. In the 90s, when galangal was not easy to come by here in the UK, any visits home would always end up with me bringing home a huge tub of rendang made by the family.
Given the amount of spices used and the slow cook method, the original, traditional beef rendang, lasts a week in the fridge, easily. And it kept me happy!
Vegetarian Rendang Recipe
All my rendang recipes are based on my mum’s Beef Rendang recipe, with the odd change here and there. After all, as mentioned in the traditional rendang recipe, rendang is open to interpretation, as far as the spices are concerned.
I’ve added some cloves and a star anise to this recipe, as well as some tamarind. This is my only rendang recipe that uses tamarind, because I felt that this vegan rendang needed it.
I have another vegetarian rendang recipe, Vegan Rendang with Tofu and Potatoes. That is going to stay on LinsFood. Click here for that vegan rendang recipe.
It’s a pretty easy recipe, although like all rendang recipes, it does require some ingredients that may not be the easiest to find where you are. Go online, folks, if you can’t find something near you.
Vegetarian Rendang Ingredients
Let’s take a quick look at some of the “pesky” ingredients that you are going to need for our vegetarian rendang today. The turmeric leaves are the only negotiable item on the list!
This should be fairly easy to come by these days, I think. If not in fresh form, then certainly is past or powdered form.
You absolutely must have lemongrass in your rendang. If you can only get the dried version, soak a couple of them in hot water, then slice and add to the paste, preserving the soaking liquid for your vegetarian rendang.
Then drop 3 more straight into the curry. This is because dried lemongrass are a rather insipid version of the real thing.
Click here to read more on how to use lemongrass.
Turmeric Leaves (Daun Kunyit)
These are the leaves that grow off turmeric rhizomes. They have a citrusy and grassy scent which is the identifying aroma of Singaporean and Malaysian Beef Rendang.
Turmeric leaves are very easy to grow, as long as you have access to fresh turmeric. Click here to read more on how to grow turmeric on LinsFood.
If you don’t have access to turmeric leaves for our vegetarian rendang, the next best thing would be Kaffir Lime leaves. But again, those are not the easiest to come by either. Here in the UK, our larger supermarkets stock them.
Failing that, just finish this vegan rendang with some fresh coriander leaves (cilantro).
Kerisik for Vegetarian Rendang
Kerisik is just grated coconut that’s been toasted. It’s a 5-minute job and something that we do, while the dried red chillies are soaking.
Can’t get fresh coconut for our vegetarian rendang? Use unsweetened desiccated coconut, preferably organic, because that means no preservatives.
Galangal is a very fragrant rhizome, like turmeric and ginger, but is a completely different ingredient. It belongs to the ginger family, but is nothing like ginger.
You must, you must, you must have galangal to cook an authentic rendang. So do your best to get your hands on it for our rendang sayur. Galangal’s floral, citrusy and pine-like aroma CANNOT be substituted. No matter what other food sites tell you.
Chillies in our Vegan Rendang
We use dried red chillies to make rendang. They will give you a deeper flavour than using fresh chillies. However, if you would prefer to use fresh chillies, by all means, go ahead and do that.
The more chillies you use, the hotter your vegetarian rendang. You can also control the heat level by the type of chillies you use.
Tamarind is a souring agent used all around the world, and is an ingredient that should be easily available everywhere.
Whether you use the fresh pulp, or paste in a jar, it doesn’t matter. However, when buying tamarind paste, always get the one with the least amount of ingredients as possible.
Preferably, you want one that’s only got tamarind and water.
Click here to read more about tamarind.
What Vegetables for our Vegan Rendang?
Whatever your heart desires. I’ve got carrots, courgettes (zucchinis), eggplants, celery and some peas.
You could use any other vegetables, there really is no limit to the variety, whether it’s beans, bell peppers, cabbage. And you can also add pulses to this in the form of kidney beans, chickpeas or any other beans you fancy.
Just remember to cook the vegetables accordingly if some of them want a shorter cooking time, like you bell pepper and green beans.
You’ll see in the recipe below that I’m adding all the vegetables at the same time and only cooking for 30 minutes.
Vegetarian Rendang on YouTube
What do you eat with Rendang Sayur?
There are a few traditional accompaniments to rendang. Bear in mind that while rendang is a dish that can be bought daily at our hawker centres and restaurants, it is still a festive dish.
So, rendang is very often served with Nasi Minyak, a fragrant yellow rice, that I call the Malay Pilau rice. Take a look at the gallery below. So you can serve our vegetarian rendang with that too.
Lemang, which is glutinous rice in bamboo poles cooked over open flames, is another very popular starch for rendang. This is a highly prized combination that is synonymous with Eid celebrations, or Hari Raya in Malay.
And on that note, let’s go get cooking! If you have any questions at all, just drop me a line!
♥ If you like the recipe and article, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you! ♥
And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood
Vegetarian Rendang Recipe (Rendang Sayur)
- chopping board
- small frying pan
- plates as needed
- colander or sieve for draining the soaked chillies
- large saucepan
Rendang Paste Ingredients
Kerisik (Toasted Grated Coconut)
- 4 Tbsp grated coconut or desiccated coconut
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 2 cloves
- 1 large carrot
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 courgette zucchini
- 1 medium aubergine eggplant
- 1 handful fresh or frozen peas
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 400 ml coconut milk (1 can) or equivalent amount from 1 `fresh coconut
- 125 ml water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 fresh turmeric leaves see post for alternatives
- 1 heaped Tbsp tamarind pulp
- 125 ml very hot water
- Put the kettle on, then cut the dried red chillies in 2-3 pieces, depending on their lengths, and place them in a bowl. Pour the boiling water all over them, cover, and leave to soak for 15 minutes. In the meantime, get all the other ingredients ready.
- Place the tamarind pulp (if using) into a bowl, and top with 125 ml (½ cup) of hot water from the kettle. Leave to soak, no need to cover.
- Roll your turmeric leaves up and either using a knife or a pair of scissors, cut them up into thin shreds. If using lime leaves, just tear the leaves up. Set aside.
- Let's chop up the vegetables. Basically, we are going to chop the vegetables up to fairly similar sizes and set them aside.Slice the carrots into rounds. Slice the celery sticksQuarter the eggplant lengthwise, then slice into "cubes".Halve the courgette lengthwise and slice.
Make the Kerisik
- While the chillies are soaking, heat a small frying pan on medium-low heat and tip the grated coconut into it.
- Dry fry this coconut, shaking the pan frequently for 4-5 minutes until you reach a golden brown colour. Use a spatula to toss the coconut if you are not comfortable shaking the frying pan.
- Tip the kerisik onto a small plate and leave to cool, If you leave it in the frying pan, it will continue cooking and burn.
Make the Rendang Paste
- Slice the lemongrass into thin rings and drop them into the chopper. See this post on how to prepare lemongrass if you're not sure.
- Cut the galangal and ginger into small pieces and drop into the chopper. Chop these 3 ingredients on their own for 10 seconds. We are giving them a head start as they are fibrous.
- Drain the soaking chillies, lose the seeds and tip them into your chopper.
- Peel and slice your onions into quarters and add them to the chopper. Chop for 10 seconds, wipe down the sides of the chopper with a spoon, and chop for another 10 seconds.
- Now add everything else: garlic, kerisik, turmeric and ground coriander to the chopper and chop again for 30 seconds, wiping down the sides a couple of times. Depending on the sharpness of your blade, you may need more time to get a smooth paste.You shouldn't need any water as there's enough moisture in the onions, but if you do, just add a tablespoon or two. We want a thick paste we can fry.
Let's cook our Vegetarian Rendang
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick, star anise and cloves and fry for 30 seconds.
- Add the rendang paste, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. It will be a bit dry as we are only using 2 tablespoons of oil in here. If you are comfortable with that, great, if not, splash in a little water.
- When the paste is fragrant at around 2 minutes of frying, toss in all the vegetables, stir thoroughly to coat them with the rendang paste.
- Pour in the coconut milk and water and stir. Tip in the turmeric leaves (or lime leaves) and add the salt. Stir, and bring to a simmer, still on medium heat.
- Partially cover your saucepan and cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on how well done you like your courgettes and eggplants. I like them falling apart.
- When your vegetarian rendang is done, remember the tamarind we soaked right at the start? Mash it up with your fingers (won't be hot by now), and using a large mesh strainer, strain the tamarind juice into your rendang.If you haven't got a large mesh strainer, take out the seeds and pulpy bits with your fingers and just pour everything in. That's what I do, as my granny used to. Everything is edible.Stir, and bring back to a simmer.
- Check seasoning and add more salt if you need to.
- Finally, stir in the peas, turn the heat off and take off the hot hob. If using coriander leaves (cilantro), now's the time to scatter some over, or just before serving.Will keep in the fridge for 2 days. Not really suitable for freezing as the vegetables will turn to mush.